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An ‘upmarket Center Parcs’: The Inspector reviews ‘back to nature’ hotel The Tawny in Staffordshire

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The Inspector stays in a £355-a-night shepherd hut at a ‘back to nature’ hotel in Staffordshire – and finds it reminds him of an ‘upmarket Center Parcs’

  • The Inspector calls at The Tawny, a ‘hugely ambitious’ hotel near Stoke-on-Trent
  • Amenities include a discreet swimming pool and immaculate gardens  
  • Guests ‘eat well’ and the setting offers children an ‘adventure in nature’, he says
  • Remember, the Inspector pays his way… and tells it prefer it is 

One thing is obvious. The trend for treehouses, shepherd huts, cabins and pods of assorted sizes and shapes shows no signs of abating.

Here at The Tawny, near Stoke-on-Trent, you get the entire above set around lakes and woodland, together with outside bath tubs, wood burners and decking.

This can be a hugely ambitious project undertaken by two local couples hoping to construct on the legacy left by the late William Podmore, who established the Consall Gardens, where the hotel relies.

Rustic charm: The Inspector stays at a shepherd hut or ‘Wildwood Hut’, resembling the one pictured, at The Tawny, near Stoke-on-Trent 

Once I ask a member of staff for some background on the place she doesn’t have much of a clue — but she does bring us a book written by Mr Podmore, for which we’re grateful.

Clearly the concept is to money in on a ‘back to nature’ vibe and that must be applauded — but why are the steps resulting in our hut product of plastic and designed to seem like wood, and why is the greenery within the central eating area fake?

We will’t help pondering that it’s all a touch contrived, although the gardens are immaculate and the discreet swimming pool on what was the terrace of the unique house works brilliantly, with views right down to the valley.

Pictured is the interior of the Boathouse cabin. According to the Inspector, the idea behind the hotel is to cash in on a ¿back to nature¿ vibe

Pictured is the inside of the Boathouse cabin. In response to the Inspector, the concept behind the hotel is to money in on a ‘back to nature’ vibe

'Young children hopefully will see it as some sort of adventure in nature,' the Inspector says of the hotel. Above is the Hillside Treehouse

‘Young children hopefully will see it as some type of adventure in nature,’ the Inspector says of the hotel. Above is the Hillside Treehouse 

'The building (pictured) that houses the restaurant, bar and pool table is a modern structure that looks like it should have a cable car rising from it,' the Inspector observes

‘The constructing (pictured) that houses the restaurant, bar and pool table is a contemporary structure that appears prefer it must have a cable automobile rising from it,’ the Inspector observes 

The constructing that houses the restaurant, bar and pool table is a contemporary structure that appears prefer it must have a cable automobile rising from it.

You may eat well here, and it is clear that the chef is having fun with himself — he serves white chocolate ice cream with the tuna tartare and adds octopus to the pork belly.

Overall, it’s hard not to treat this as an upmarket Center Parcs. We’re paying £355 B&B for our shepherd hut — or, quite, two shepherd huts joined into one.

The front part has the TV on a wall, but there’s nowhere comfortable to take a seat and watch it, and for that type of money you may expect to have a basin sufficiently big to avoid water hurtling to the ground once you wash your face.

But good luck to The Tawny. Young children hopefully will see it as some type of adventure in nature. And that’s no bad thing.

TRAVEL FACTS 

The Tawny, Consall Gardens Estate, Staffordshire, ST9 0AG. Wildwood huts are priced from £225. For more information, call 01538 787664 or visit thetawny.co.uk

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